The Three Emmas at Sternewirth at San Antonio’s Hotel Emma

At Sternewirth bar inside the Hotel Emma in San Antonio, the Three Emmas cocktail represents the scandalous tale of three women named Emma, a true story of love, betrayal and murder. The hotel sits on the location of the former Pearl Brewery, which was founded by Otto Koehler in 1883, and the historic love triangle goes like this:

In 1910, Otto’s wife, Emma, was hurt in a car accident and hired a nurse – also named Emma (called Emmi, to avoid confusion). Nurse Emma/Emmi had a pretty, blonde friend, another nurse named Emma (Emma III) as well, and soon, Otto was having an affair with both nurses Emma. One day in 1914, Otto went to visit the nurses and an arguement started with Emma III, who shot and killed Otto with a .32 revolver.


When the police arrived, she said, “I’m sorry, but I had to kill him.” Charged with murder, Emma skipped town and traveled to Europe to nurse WWI casualties. To the surprise of all, she returned to San Antonio in 1918 to stand trial. The all-male jury found her not guilty.

Now, the hotel pays homage to the tragic and sordid tale with their Three Emmas cocktail, made with pearl and rose cordial – representing the strong wife who rant the brewery after Otto’s wife, Amontillado Sherry, for sweet Emma #2 who wasn’t willing to marry Otto and ran off, and Botanist gin, added for Emma #3.

“We wanted to tell Hotel Emma’s rich history through one of our signature cocktails and highlight the true story of Otto Koehler and the Three Emmas,” explains Beth Smith, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “The Three Emmas cocktail helps tell the captivating story and is one of our many ways of honoring Emma Koehler. Our bartending team at Sternewirth did an amazing job of creating a delicious drink that incorporates three distinct spirits to represent each one of the ladies.”


The Three Emmas cocktail recipe and preparation

  • 1 oz Pearl Beer & Rose cordial
  • 1 oz Amontillado Sherry
  • .75 oz Botanist Gin
  • .5 oz Lemon Juice
  • .5 oz Grapefruit Juice

Shake all ingredients together, and strain into glass over fresh cracked ice. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf.

Sternewirth at Hotel Emma details

137 E Grayson St., San Antonio, TX 78215; 210-448-8300;; @thehotelemma

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